This month has been a doozy. Not sure why, exactly, but I feel like even just ADLs (that’s medical speak for "activities of daily living" and includes things like tooth-brushing and deodorant) are all getting the better of me. I should not be complaining to you about this, I realize, as you full-time work while simultaneously single-parent your way through this winter and spring.
But that is why bread with butter is the recipe I felt I must share with you right now. Is that a recipe, you ask? Barely. Which is why you need it. Cause you can make this while yelling at the toddler and holding the baby.
I know you might be thinking: Is she serious? Homemade bread? Who has time for this shit?
But trust me. Keep reading. Move forward.
I got this recipe years ago out of the New York Times and have seen it reprinted over and over again. It’s that good. But super easy. Really.
I promise you nearly Tartine level bread (ah, the hubris of hunger and laziness) that literally requires nothing of you but a few stirs of a spoon and a hot oven.
And all it needs out of the oven is a little butter. Store-bought. We can do homemade butter another time.
Jim Leheay’s (of Sullivan Street Bakery) No-Knead Bread.
This bread is crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, with just a hint of sourdough. It requires a minimum of 12 hours and up to 24 hours sitting time and after baking can sit on your counter for a few hours before serving. Makes 1 1/2 pound loaf.
3 cups flour (I use ½ bread and ½ AP flour, but you can use entirely AP)
¼ tsp instant yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
cornmeal or wheat bran, as needed
First, In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups warm water (like, if you stick your finger in it, it will feel just barely warm), and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18 at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees (if you keep your rooms a little cooler, you can let bread sit up to 24 hours at this stage).
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes. Dough will be super sticky and not really hold any shape.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly attempt to shape dough into a ball - it won't but don't worry. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Dough will be super sticky – again don’t worry! Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic – I use my Creuset dutch oven) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it will stick to the towel and may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Butter, salt, eat, repeat. xoxo